I was delighted to receive some expert advice from best selling author and podcaster Nick Stephenson on how to improve the layout of the site. This will be an ongoing project over the next few weeks, so if something looks weird or no post appears, please bear with me. With some help from Santa and his techie elves, it should be up and running properly by the New Year.
Recent events and crazy politics reminded me of this short story written in 2016. What surprised me was how little had changed in those intervening years.
Aftermath – When will we ever learn?
The daily news spread concern about which of the world militant leaders would be the first to call the bluff of the other zealots, press the big red button and cause devastation.
It didn’t happen like that.
It wasn’t global warming, conflict, the loss of the bees, nuclear warfare, or any of the myriad of other 21st century concerns which caused the final destruction.
The first signs were not even recognised as being important. The inhabitants of the western world suffered stomach upsets; nothing unusual there with the amount of chemicals in manufactured food. Then reports began to come in of diarrhoea and sickness in the African nations, which was put down to the usual dirty water and lack of hygiene.
The minor disruptions to everyday life; the long queues at the doctors, the delayed trains, the Internet going down, the lack of supplies in the shops as delivery drivers succumbed to what was suspected as being a virus, were irritating rather than recognised as being the beginning of the end.
Sales of disinfectant and medicines shot through the roof, as did the price of whatever food could be found. Cheap tinned goods became like gold dust, even when past their sell-by date. Reports came in of farms being raided in the hope organic food would have escaped whatever it was that was causing the problem in the food chain. The remains of slaughtered animals were found in the countryside as it was believed fresh meat wouldn’t have been contaminated.
A severe stomach upset affects the whole of the body. The brain finds it difficult to function properly, and the simplest task becomes impossible. The services we took for granted gradually began to disintegrate. Power cuts became commonplace, street lights no longer worked encouraging muggings and burglaries, mob rule took over.
The world succumbed, not with a bang but with a whimper as all communication was lost, and each individual struggled to survive. Some did, although there seemed to be no logic in who won the battle and who lost. All members of fit, healthy families perished, while a frail old lady with a cancer diagnosis survived.
Had aliens invaded and taken over the minds and souls of mankind? Like the plague in years gone by, no one knew who was clean and who was infected. Individuals were afraid of contact with their neighbours in case of contamination, and a solitary existence became the norm.
Over the years the need for human company overcame the distrust that had grown up between friends and neighbours. Small communities were established and pooled their talents to contribute to the well-being of their fellows. The strength of the young was combined with the experience of their elders, and mutual respect developed. Some died from natural causes, but babies were born who seemed immune to the sickness.
It’s a very different world now, but perhaps, just perhaps, we will have learned something from the mistakes of our ancestors and be able to build a better future. Or will greed and self-interest once again make nature intervene before the big red button destroys her world?
© Voinks November 2016
More news on the charity anthology ‘When Stars will Shine’ in aid of ‘Help for Heroes’ next week, but if you check out my author page on Amazon you’ll find more details.